ATEC Alumnus Builds Career, One Monster at a Time

Tony Tyler’s infatuation with computer animation began with Tron, the groundbreaking science fiction film from 1982. Decades later, he read an article in the UTD Mercury about the University’s new Arts and Technology (ATEC) program and thought perhaps he could learn how to create virtual worlds and the creatures to inhabit them.

B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen) meets a hot little number in green at the Murphy family reunion in DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens.

Today, the ATEC alumnus brings characters to life for DreamWorks SKG, including those from Monsters vs. Aliens.

For the full-length animated film, Tyler worked as a technical director for the character effects department. The job involved pipeline engineering – creating software programs that provide the foundation, or skeleton, for animated images and link components – software development and troubleshooting artistic problems.

One of the most challenging aspects of his job was getting the cloth simulation, which replicates the texture and movement of woven material, robust enough for the movie.

From left: These Monsters — The Missing Link (Will Arnett), Ginormica (Reese Witherspoon), B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), Insectosaurus and Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie) — defend the planet in DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens.

Monsters vs. Aliens was the most complicated film DreamWorks has done in terms of simulated cloth,” Tyler said. “Every character – even the little ones way in the background – had simulated cloth, which added an awesome touch of realism.

“The challenge was to make it as easy as possible for the artists to use while allowing them the flexibility to implement their creative whims.”

His favorite character of the film is B.O.B., a brainless, indestructible gelatinous blob voiced by Canadian-American actor Seth Rogen.

“Everything B.O.B. says in the film is sheer comic genius and really stood out for me as one of the most enjoyable parts of Monsters vs. Aliens,” said Tyler. “B.O.B. the animated character did some pretty amazing things. I was fortunate to be able to help develop a pipeline that helped the artists truly bring that character to life.”

Tyler graduated in 2004 from the University with a master’s degree in Arts and Technology. He studied 3-D animation and film, as well as game development and production.

“The ATEC program fostered a belief in myself and my creative abilities that didn’t exist until that point,” said Tyler. “I am so very proud of all that I accomplished in my time there, and very thankful for all the support and opportunities I was afforded.”

Monsters vs. Aliens was released in March, and grossed more than $59 million its opening weekend. The movie’s worldwide box office receipts since its opening total $364,691,105.

“Tony’s dedication and technical and aesthetic background have prepared him for a leadership role in the world of special effects-based entertainment and interactive communications,” said ATEC program director and Arts and Humanities Distinguished Chair Thomas Linehan. “He will have a major design-role early in his professional career because he is well–trained in both arts and technology.”

The Arts and Technology program in the School of Arts and Humanities offers bachelor’s, master’s and master’s of fine arts degrees.